Why You Need A Plan

Its 2am. You sit up straight in bed because your house alarm is blaring. Do you know what to do? Do your children know what to do?


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This is why you need a plan.

As scary as it is (trust me, I’ve lived it), imagine someone has broken into your house. You have no idea where or why this person is in your house. Will your kids stay in their room? Do you want them to?

I’m not saying terrify yourself and your kids so much that no one ever sleeps again. However, in modern times, it’s important to have this conversation in some context. Have a conversation where you teach your kids that when they hear that alarm go off, they know what to do, whether it be climb under their bed and hide or run to your bedroom. Run through it a few times so that it’s not something they really have to think about it. You don’t have to go into detail about why they need to hide, or why they need to run as fast as they can to your bedroom. Keep it simple – “If you hear this noise (try to get a clip of what your alarm sounds like and play it) it means it’s time to play a game. I know it can be loud and scary, but it means that you need to ________________ (hide under your bed, in your closet, or run to mommy and daddy’s room) and it’s very important that you do it. Let’s practice!” Don’t expect kids to sleep through it even though they might. And have a plan for if that happens as well.

Talk about this scenario with your spouse first to make sure you’re both on the same page and that you know what each of your roles are.

You should also have a fire emergency plan as well as a weather emergency plan, in particular if you live in a part of the country that regularly has severe storms, tornadoes, and/or hurricanes (or any other weather events). The best time to plan for these things is before they happen. You aren’t thinking clearly when you’re woken up or when you’re in a state of panic. But if you, your spouse, and your children have a plan and have practiced it before, you’ll be able to breathe a teensy bit easier.

Yes, fellow nannies, this also applies to you as well. Although you probably won’t have to deal with the middle of the night waking due to the alarm (unless you’re doing an overnight), what if it goes off during the day? Have a plan in place so that you don’t panic (as much).


Aly

One of the most talked about Super Bowl commercials

Sometimes, the important things are hard to talk about. Just because it’s hard to talk about doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. Case in point, the meaning behind the Nationwide Super Bowl commercial [I’ll put the video at the end of this post if you haven’t seen it.] The gist of the commercial is a little boy saying things he didn’t get to do because he died (from a preventable accident). The commercial shows a few of these accidents (open window on an upper floor, chemicals under the sink, a TV that has fallen over, etc). Each of these scenarios can be prevented.

While many people were in an uproar over how harsh or shocking the commercial was, the point of it is that it’s supposed to be that way. It’s meant to get a very serious message across. Think about how many people are talking about it in person and on social media. Would those people be talking about preventing deaths and injuries just in normal conversation? No way. It was definitely a commercial you watch and at the end you’re left with a strong reaction towards it. At least I was. Sure, they could have gone a different direction with the ad, and perhaps left the little boy out at the end. But would it have been as meaningful? Would it have gotten through to as many people? I’m not sure. But this one definitely did. And what better place to show a commercial that would make everyone stop and think than the Super Bowl?

At the end of the commercial, they provide a website to visit (http://makesafehappen.com/). If you go to the website, it gives you lots of safety tips categorized by age, location, and risk factor. Sure, it was made by Nationwide, but the commercial had nothing to do with insurance. It was essentially a PSA on keeping children safe. If this commercial gets through to one person and makes that person go home and add a lock to their cabinet or anchor their furniture or not go answer that phone call while their child is in the bathtub, isn’t it worth it? If one child’s life is saved, it’s worth it to me.

Now, lets get away from the hoopla about whether or not it was an “appropriate” commercial and onto the meaning behind it. A lot of parents don’t realize how many accidents can happen in their home, particularly in the instance of furniture falling over. Let’s face it. Most adults don’t climb on dressers or up shelves or climb on other furniture so we don’t think about a dresser tipping over on us. But children do climb. “In 2010…unstable furniture sent about 23,600 people – the highest number since 2006 – to emergency rooms. Most of the injured were less than 10 years old.” (Source) In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), one child dies every 2 weeks because of furniture tipping over on them. (Source) One child’s death is too many, let alone one every 2 weeks. The solution? Anchor your TV and any and all furniture that has the possibility of tipping. (dressers, bookshelves, armoires, etc) When you go to cover all your plugs to make sure little fingers don’t go into them, make sure you remember to anchor your furniture too.

A new “thing” that has been happening is children being poisoned by the dish washing or laundry detergent pods (which was one of the accidents in the commercial). I mean they’re colorful and typically smell good. Why wouldn’t a child want to taste it? Every day, over 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned. (Source) Be sure to always have a child proof lock on cabinets that contain chemicals and medicines. Also, make sure you know the national poison control hotline number (1-800-222-1222).

Overall, small things (definitely not limited to the things I talked about above) that take 5-10 minutes to do could save your child’s life. Why not do them? Hopefully this commercial made people more aware and inspired them to prevent as much as they can.


Aly

Screen Time or No Screen Time?

I am a firm believer in no screen time under the age of two. After that, I believe in as little as possible. Why, you may ask? Why would you is my answer. For technical purposes, when I say screen time I mean television, computers, tablets, and cell phones.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2. Children need the interaction, in person, with others. Particularly in the first two years, the brain is setting up a foundation for the rest of the child’s life. It is based on interactions and experiences with the world around them. How their brain is wired depends on concrete materials, not watching things happen on a screen in front of them. Children, especially young children, absolutely thrive on hands on materials and experiences. It’s how they learn best. Watching a television or playing an app on an iPad doesn’t do much for them.


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Studies have shown that “each hour of television watched per day at ages 1-3 increases the risk of attention problems, such as ADHD, by almost 10 percent at age 7.” (source) There are also studies that show children who have screen time also don’t sleep as well (source). Not to mention the desensitization to violence (clearly, we’re not talking about watchers of Dora with this point), the increase of obesity, school problems, etc.

Okay, now that we have all the scientific and fact based stuff out of the way, here’s where I’m going to put my professional nanny voice on. Ahem. Do you hear the difference?

I was browsing a nanny group the other day and the question of TV came up. I was kind of astounded when more than one person said they let their nanny kids watch TV, some in unlimited amounts, as well as multiple “app times” a day (Yes, some said they didn’t allow any screen time as well). Personally, I like to do everything I can to better the lives of the children I care for. Exposing them to that much TV and screen time is not bettering their lives. There has yet to be a study that educational TV or apps actually help kids.

Also, here’s my thing. Someone is paying you a good portion of their hard earned money to care for their child and do the best you can. They are probably trusting that you are well versed and educated in all the latest studies and information regarding children and that you’ll put that information to good use. Is putting them in front of the TV or an iPad the best you can do? Sure, I’m sure an app or a TV show might be able to teach them something, but isn’t there a better way to teach them? One with actual materials and actual experiences? And yes, it is absolutely possible to not watch TV as a nanny for at least two years. I didn’t turn the TV on for the girls until they were 2 1/2 (the only reason I did was because I had what ended up being two kidney stones and was in the worst pain of my life, the TV was on for less than 30 minutes the entire day, and I ended up in the ER. So yes, it’s possible). You know how much screen time they’ve gotten with me since then? None. And no, I’m not saying that to sound like I’m trying to be better than anyone else. I’m saying that to show you that it is in fact possible and pretty easy.

There’s so much more fun you and the kiddos can have rather than plopping them in front of the TV for a good chunk of the day. I strive to do the best I can day in and day out with the kids I care for, as anyone should do in any job. Knowing all I know, and now you do as well, I find other alternatives for the kids. They enjoy it more, and so do I.


Aly

Welcome Fall!

Finally! I have my computer back. Every single thing is gone though. I’m trying to think positively and think of it as a fall cleaning for my computer. Although, I will admit, it did just hurt a bit when I went to save a picture for this post only to find none of my folders (and all of their contents) were there anymore. Lesson learned though…within the next few days I’ll be getting an external hard drive where anything remotely important will live. 
Speaking of fall, even though it’s not technically fall just yet, I’m totally in fall mode. If it weren’t for 70 degree temperatures you’d already see my boots and scarves making an appearance. I already have a ton of fall art and activities I want to do with the girls. 
Today we made our seasonal craft. At the beginning of each season we do a different one (who cares if we’re a week early for fall). For spring we did chicks/ducks, for summer we made paper ice cream cones, and today we made a handprint tree.
I started by drawing a tree trunk on a piece of cardstock and gave each of the girls a brown crayon. Once they colored the trunk to their liking I helped them put their handprints as the leaves of the tree. This was the end result – a quick, easy, fall craft you can modify just a bit to do even with the youngest of children. 


Aly

Make Your Own Ball Pit

This past week was plain and simple H-O-T. It was our first real heat wave of the summer, with temperatures hitting the upper 90’s and the heat index in the 100’s. Most of the week was also a code red, which is the most dangerous air quality category and “indicates local air pollution has reached an unhealthy level for all residents, with sensitive groups such as children, ill people and the elderly at risk of even more serious health problems.” (source) Basically they suggest you don’t spend much time outside, especially with children or if you have asthma. So other than the one or two days that weren’t a code red (where we did make it out for some play time), we were stuck inside.

Since the girls and I don’t watch TV during our time together (see this post for why we don’t) we have to find other ways to occupy our time. We did the typical coloring, hide and go seek, play dough, etc but I wanted to create something more fun and outside of the norm. Somehow I came up with the idea of making our own ball pit. The girls already have a pool, so all we needed was the balls. We made a quick trip to Babies R Us and picked some up. When we got back, I spread out the mutipurpose cloth so that their carpet didn’t get dirty from the bottom of the pool, brought the pool in, and then dumped in the balls.

The girls were SO excited. M went right in. E was a little more hesitant, which is typical for her {she’s more reserved than M} but she hung out on the edge and moved her hands through the ball pit. Eventually she climbed in as well. They liked moving their arms and legs through the balls, throwing the balls out, running to get them and then putting them back in the pool, and playing catch with me even though they aren’t quite coordinated enough to actually catch yet. M protested big tme when we had to clean up for lunch. The ball pit will be a repeated activity I’m sure!

We’ll be using the balls for future things too – color sorting, art projects, more games of catch, etc.

Since last week was so hot, we also made popsicles. Lemonade for one day and orange for the next. Both girls really liked the lemonade ones but E didn’t particularly care for the orange juice ones.
The girls really enjoy the Llama Llama series of books and in one (Zippity Zoom) Llama and Nelly Gnu eat popsicles. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Llama Llama pop-pic-les!” from the girls both while they were eating theirs and after. I love that they are able to remember things like that and relate things back to what we’ve read.

We have a lot planned for this week so stay tuned!

 


Aly

Splish Splash

Ahhh…sweet summertime. Nothing better than the warm sun shining down on a beautiful day. Well, except being able to splash and play in water while that sun shines down.
With the weather heating up {we’ve consistently hit in the mid to upper 90’s this past week} one of the girls’ favorite activities is being in their pool. They absolutely love to splash, and use “daddy’s cups” in their little pool. I’ve been giving them spoons recently too and they enjoy using those to mix up some imaginary ice cream. E will even tell me it’s vanilla if I ask what flavor she’s making.
The other day I found a good deal on a water table. This one to be exact. Normally $40 but I guess it was returned or something because I found it in the middle of an aisle – not with all the other water tables or even on a shelf, and when I asked how much it was, it was either $20 or $25. Too good to pass up with how much these girls love the water.
They “helped” me set it up and then once I filled it up it was just shy of two hours of fun for them. M was obsessed with putting one of the little included people down the slide. E liked using the cup to dump water on herself which was followed with hysterical laughter from her.
The girls had so much fun that we even went back out to the water table again after nap for a short splash session. After about 45 minutes, M was not too thrilled with going back inside but based on the thunder and darkening skies (plus I checked radar) we had no choice. 
It’s nice to have an alternate to the pool so that we can go back and forth between the two on weeks like this where it is sunny each day and hot. I might even fill up both the pool and water table and let them have at it a few times. If you don’t have a pool or water table, bring out a few pots, pitchers, or buckets of water and some cups and let your kids have some good old fashioned water play. 

Aly

Toddler Favorites

The girls are 17 months old now. Wow. I don’t know where the time went! They’ve really changed over the past few months. They’re both talking a mile a minute now, especially E, but M is catching up quickly. They’re running, “jumping”, and oh so curious about everything. They love going on walks – even though we only get half way down the block in about an hour. They like picking every flower (dandelion) they can find as well as picking up every stick, watching lawns being mowed, identifying cars and trucks being driven by, etc. They are so into learning as much as they can about every little thing. It’s really enjoyable to watch. 
They are really loving a few specific things right now, so I thought I’d share them in case you’re looking for a gift for a toddler!
The first is this Fisher-Price Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace.
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The girls really like playing with this castle, especially now that they’ve figured out how to situate the princesses to make them sing. Every once in a while the princesses have an identity crisis and think they’re another princess, but the girls don’t seem to mind. E likes to make the princesses sing and then she’ll dance, while M puts the princesses to bed and then says “shhhhh!” These are pricey for what they are, but I found the girls’ castle at a local consignment event for $12. They are also about $10 – $20 cheaper at Walmart or Target than they are online.
Next up is Playskool Sesame Street Figures.
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E in particular loves taking these out and lining them up. They have quite a few sets available – Elmo & The Count, Telly & Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie, etc. Target carries most sets. She has these and some smaller ones (not sure of where they came from) I also picked up at the consignment event for less than $2 or $3 for the set. 
Third up is crayons and paper.
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Coloring is easily the girls favorite activity. They ask for it upon waking up! 
The fourth and last favorite is sidewalk chalk.
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It combines two of their favorite things – being outside and coloring.

Aly

Eggs!

I know it’s a little early since it’s not close to Easter yet, but recently I took the girls to the store and we picked up some plastic eggs. After that day’s nap, I brought out the eggs and two plastic bowls for the girls to play with. I decided to actually time this activity to see exactly how long it lasted. I gave the girls the eggs and bowls at exactly 3:38. I left a few minutes after 5:00, and they were still playing with them. Other than a 3 minute chase game and a 5 minute diaper change, they played with the eggs for the entire {almost} hour and a half. I tried to see if they were still as interested the next week, and while I still got a good 20 minutes of devoted interest from them, it wasn’t close to the hour and a half. Still a good activity either way.
I highly recommend the dollar store eggs as just regular play eggs since they’re cheaply made and so they can be squeezed and popped open. This was M’s primary objective the entire time she played. She’d take one egg out of a bowl at a time, squeeze it until it popped open, put it in the other bowl, and then get another egg. There was a lot of concentration and determination involved in this, and you could see she was quite proud of herself each time the egg popped open. Once the girls are older and aren’t putting just about everything in their mouths anymore, I’ll purchase eggs from somewhere else – ones that are a bit sturdier and don’t pop open as easily, and fill them with different things so the girls can shake them up and hear the different sounds.
They also loved the typical smacking them together, dumping the bowls out, filling them back up, etc. This activity cost me a dollar. Okay, $1.06 if you include tax. Not bad for multiple uses. Plus when we’re ready to be done with them I have another idea up my sleeve of something we can do with them.


Aly

Love Canvas – Valentine’s Day Craft

As our Valentine’s Day craft this year, the girls and I painted a canvas pink. [source] First though, I used masking tape and taped off the word “love”. I got our picnic blanket/carpet protector and spread it on the floor.We have used this one from Babies R Us multiple times and for multiple things and we love it!
I tried to find it on the Babies R Us website, but they don’t have it listed, so I’m not sure if it’s still available. If you’re looking for a multipurpose cover, I highly recommend this, so check your local Babies R Us! It’s not padded at all, but it’s huge, machine washable (line dry), and has weighted corners. Plus it was cheap. I think I got ours for under $10! [image source]
After I moved all toys away from the edges of the floor covering (I didn’t want little paint covered hands able to reach anything!) I stripped the girls down, mixed up some pink finger paint, spooned it onto the canvas, and let the girls go for it.
They had a blast and loved spreading the paint on something other than paper. The canvas was such a good idea. It can be hung if the girls’ parents desire, and I wasn’t worried about it getting ripped by the force with which the girls were painting.
By the time the majority of the canvas was pink and the girls decided they were done, they were covered in pink! M at one point used her feet to paint and slid across the canvas, E used her knees. Both had it covering both arms – shoulders to fingertips! I had wipes close by (If we were closer to a tub or sink I probably would have given each of them a quick rinse off) and wiped down each girl to get the paint off. After waiting a few minutes, I peeled the tape off and in the end, this was our final result!
Happy Valentines Day!

Aly

Ribbon

As another one of our sick day activities, we recently pulled out some curly ribbon left over from the girls 1st birthday. We keep this ribbon in the same container as our pom poms so I’ll admit this isn’t something out of the ordinary for the girls, but they do love playing with it.

Not only is it fun to move around in your hands, but it’s also fun to touch with your toes! The girls think it’s hilarious when I put a strand of ribbon in between their toes. They kick their legs up and try to shake it off. When they see it move as they shake, there’s usually some giggles.

We have ribbon in multiple colors so I talk about them as we play. E is pretty good about identifying colors, in particular yellow and blue, although recently everything has become yellow. Who knows, maybe that will become her favorite color! We also talked about the sound the ribbon makes as they move it around and squish it in their hands. You can also discuss the texture of the ribbon, how it’s short when it’s curled and when you pull it, it straightens out and gets longer, etc.

As always, this is something you need to closely monitor your child with!


Aly